When the St.
John’s South MHA defected from the Tories, he stated that the
people in his riding would help him decide where he will be seated on a more
permanent basis. I happen to live in Mr.
Osborne’s riding; I want to take him up on his offer, now.
is a lifelong Tory; he has won five elections under the P.C. banner. Upon defection, he said his problem did not
arise from any single issue except for the Tory leadership, though some backbench
MHAs and Cabinet Ministers may now be added to his list, given their visceral
response to his move.
|Cartoon Credit: John Meaney, Rant and Roar|
Hodder, an MHA for Stephenville and former Premier, Tom Rideout deserted the
Liberal Party in the mid-1980s, they did do so, not in consequence of the then
Liberal Leader, but, ostensibly at least, on account of a policy that favoured
the Federal Liberals on oil and gas issues, in contrast to the NL centered position
aggressively (and, in hindsight, successfully) advanced by the Peckford Tories.
interview, the St. John’s South MHA was consistent: the problem was Dunderdale.
This might suggest Osborne may wish to
go back ‘home’. He will have to wait until
Dunderdale self-destructs; though, by then, the P.C. Party may be a poisoned
chalice if Muskrat Falls is sanctioned.
reason, the possibility of Osborne re-joining the P.C.s, may well be a Hobson’s
choice (no choice at all). But, we’ll call
it option #1.
he can join the Liberal Party. The fit
makes sense, ideologically; the Liberals and the Tories are just two cans of
peas. The real difference between them tends to be leadership, so increasingly the
contrast is one of history, not philosophy; otherwise, each party merely
constitutes a different brand. Problem
is, the Liberal brand power is at an all-time low and is stuck.
Osborne’s riding magnifies the difficulty. In the last general election Osborne
took 57.9% of the popular vote compared with 38.9% for the NDP and an
insignificant 3.2% for the Liberal Party.
If you said, end the analysis there, who could argue. But, alas, this
item is about the present and the future.
Leader, Dwight Ball, is a gentleman and, I believe, trustworthy; he wants to be
Leader, except he doesn’t possess, what Brian Mulroney called the ‘je ne sais
quoi’ winners need. Worse, he appears indecisive and has not utilized his time
as Interim Leader, to define himself and his Party.
spooked by Dean MacDonald, Danny Williams’ buddy, who is said to be positioning
himself for a run at the Liberal leadership by leading a Liberal Party policy
tour. This is the same Dean MacDonald
who states that he is steadfastly in favour of Muskrat Falls; he offers no
caveats, not even a ceiling on construction estimates. His stint as Liberal policy wonk and his
mission to revitalize the Liberal Party says as much about Dwight Ball as it
does Dino MacDonald.
it. The Muskrat Falls project, as its
wheels fall off with cost overruns and other issues, is almost certain to
destroy the Tory party for an entire generation. A strong Liberal Leader, even an interim one,
would ask someone of Mr. MacDonald’s ilk to take a hike for fear the stench of
Musk-rat would stick to the Liberal Party, too.
It’s not as
if Dean MacDonald has been doing such a great job, either. Asked by a reporter to explain the low turn-out
at local policy meetings, he offered, that it was a low key initiative.
have six seats; the party has been moribund, comatose (take your pick) in
recent opinion polls. It is going
nowhere, the NDP is eating its lunch and Ball is content with listening to a
lame excuse from the guy who wants his job, who wants to be Premier! Ball should have fired him weeks ago!
this situation speaks to leadership. If Ball expects to attract Osborne, he has
to take charge, demonstrate that he is on a mission. He has quite a distance to go.
#2 for Tom Osborne? The phrase ‘political orphan’ suddenly seems relevant.
join the NDP. Anyone who ignores the
rise of the NDP in this Province is oblivious to, what I believe, is a paradigm
shift in partisan preferences. The trend is still young; an uncertain Liberal
Party and an inability by Premier Dunderdale to connect with the public will
give the NDP greater impetus.
demographic is less fearful of an NDP ideology that favors left of center
policies, more social spending and government engagement in the economy.
Lorraine Michael is intelligent and a capable communicator. Though the Party found it difficult, at
first, to steer around support by Jack Harris and the Federal NDP on Muskrat
Falls, she is beginning to see that the issue is a poison pill that will bring
down the Tories. In addition, the Tories
have made it believable that the NDP could never be as reckless with the
Province’s finances as they have been.
Michael has been more cautious than necessary.
She has held back on a host of key issues and she needs to take greater
ownership of opposition to the Muskrat Falls project. Michael also needs to articulate her Party’s
plan for securing a meaningful debate in the House of Assembly.
The irony is
that, if Muskrat is sanctioned, the NDP may be the Party that will have to trim
public services and a plethora of social programs to pay for the project.
Osborne find a home within the NDP? If the Tories don’t make some tough decisions
soon to shake Dunderdale and the Liberals don’t start showing some spine, you
might just see how quickly a red tory can suddenly turn orange.
point: After MHA Yvonne Jones was elected an Independent Member in 1996, she
took her time; only joining the Liberal Party a few months prior to the 1999
suggestion to Mr. Osborne: no hurry. Enjoy
the view from the Opposition side of the House of Assembly. For the next two years, you are going to
witness some fundamental changes both inside and outside the House; (for
starters, my bet is Dean MacDonald will return to obscurity as soon as Muskrat
Falls is sanctioned). Most importantly, Osborne
will have an opportunity to observe which Party is most deserving of his seat.
Indeed, if Osborne turns out to be on the wrong side of that decision his value
to either opposition party maybe doubtful.
You may have
thought there was an option #4. If
Osborne understands anything about politics, he knows that independent candidates
have a poor track record at election time. Yvonne Jones was one of the
Osborne is about to understand the importance of patience, he must be aware
that his speech is no longer restricted by caucus discipline. He will be expected to share his opinions and
to influence public debate.
It will be
interesting to see which party most effectively engages him in their strategy
to elevate the art and practice of opposition to a whole new level.